Freezer Cooking 101: A Beginner's Guide Part 1 of 3


This is the first of a 3-part series on Freezer Cooking.  I got hooked on freezer cooking a couple of years ago.  While we don't eat the majority of our meals as freezer meals, I love counting on them at least once or twice a week as well as having a meal or two extra that's handy if I've forgotten to take something out.  
See the entire series here.

Finding ways to simplify mealtime has become incredibly popular, and for good reason.  We all lack time.  Trying to put a homemade nutritious meal of real food on the table each night is, in a nutshell, challenging.  There are a few tactics that I use because they work well for us:  Quick & Easy Weeknight meals (ready in 40 minutes or less), Prepping meals ahead of time (usually Sunday evening), using the slow-cooker or instant pot, and utilizing make-ahead freezer meals throughout the week.



While freezer meals are a huge timesaver during the week, they do require you to pre-plan as well as spend a bit of time prepping them.  I highly recommend you prep them monthly rather than weekly as it is quite time consuming to prep weekly.  I try to designate the first Saturday of every month to freezer meal prep.  I go grocery shopping on Friday and then Saturday, once breakfast has been served and dishes completed, its freezer meal prep time.

It sounds daunting, I know, but once you get in the habit (as well as some recipes under your belt), it’s a lifesaver.  Sometimes it's as simple as freezing the meat in a (homemade) marinade (so I don't have to think about making it before prepping dinner) and sometimes it's prepping and freezing the entire meal.

Although I’ll be sharing many freezer meal ideas and tips throughout the year, I wanted to first start you with some basic things to do in preparation for your freezer meal prep.

1. Make sure you have adequate freezer space.
Yes, this seems like common sense, but it’s easy to underestimate how much space you will really need.  If you are limited on space, pull together your recipes and what containers you will need.  Once you stack up your empty containers you’ll be able to figure out if it will work or not.

2. Create a monthly (or weekly) meal plan.
Meal plans truly are time savers.  I prepare monthly (although I share it here weekly), mostly for the purposes of freezer meal prep.  I do a grocery store run for all items I’ll be prepping for freezer meals on Friday and then I spend the first half of that Saturday prepping.  Weekly grocery shopping is then only for the additional meals we are eating that week.

If you are absolutely positively against meal planning, you at least need to make a list of meals you’ll be prepping to ensure you use them up throughout the month.

3. Prepare a list of ingredients you’ll need to purchase for your freezer meal recipes.
Again, this isn’t necessarily your grocery list for every meal that month, this is specific to freezer meal preparation only.  You can include it with that week's grocery shopping list for an easy one-stop shopping trip.

4. Make sure you have containers, food wrap, etc.
Depending on what you’re preparing will determine what you’ll need for freezer safe containers and/or wrap.  Freezer wrap/containers must be airtight and moisture-proof to prevent freezer burn.  **More on this in the next post.**

5. Not every recipe works well for freezer meals.  
Go through your recipe to ensure all of the ingredients will work for a freezer meal.

For example, mayonnaise, salad dressings and salad greens don’t freeze well.  Also, cooked egg whites can get rubbery and raw onions can get stronger in flavor once frozen.  This doesn’t mean avoid all recipes with these ingredients, instead, consider what the final product (consistency, flavor, etc.) should be and gauge it from there.


The second freezer cooking post will outline the basic prep work needed and the third freezer cooking post will be recipes/instructions for some basic meals you can prepare to get your toes wet.  Before you know it, you’ll be hooked!



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3 comments:

daisy gurl said...

Great tips! It really helps to plan ahead.

Tish Addams said...

We are about to move into our first bought home and I plan to use your sure heavily! Love everything you do!

Staci at Life At Cobble Hill Farm said...

Thank you Daisy. Yes indeed it does!!

Tish - thank you so much! And congratulations on your new home!!!